People going undercover to get an edge in the bloody academic textbook market? Yup. According to a recent article in the Chronicle for Higher Education competition is fierce among book stores who are working hard to tap into our student loans. Mytelka writes,
“The competitors for students’ textbook business are, on the one hand, several local independent booksellers, and on the other, the university bookstore, which is run under contract by the Follett Higher Education Group, the nation’s largest collegiate-bookstore chain.
It seems that a number of professors at the public university would prefer to give business to the local bookstores rather than to the Follett-run university store, so they provide their required reading lists — a prerequisite for ordering books ahead of time — only to the independent store owners.”
So theres another interesting side effect I’d have never imagined of making course reading lists available online well in advance. What really surprises me however is how little talk of open access publishing follows in the blog posts comments. Local book stores however might be hurt by OA publishing, unless they can be integrated into preparing course packs/OA material… I often prefer to have a hardcopy so I can read more easily in a cafe. Maybe they don’t want to turn into Kinko’s, but with all the OA material they could move in on the publishers terrain.
The discussion that followed the post points to the need for cheaper textbooks. One reader expresses his disdain for publishers strategies to fight the second hand book trade,
“Having worked my way through grad school at a local bookseller that carried textbooks, I need to chime in…the way publishers behave – new editions every year, homework websites with codes that can only be used once per book, and the like, I actually understand the impulse to pirate.”
Why pirate… At least when we get some more OOOAAA….
I enjoy sitting around in a bookstore so I feel for smaller bookstores who might benefit from the academic textbook system… At the same time, I really *hate* constant new editions of texts. Just update it online and make it available there. Bookstores might be able to find a way to thrive making OA material accessible in printed form.